Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda
Deputy Assistant Secretary and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Bali, Indonesia
October 22, 2013

Thank you for the invitation to speak. As the U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the Minister’s comments and the Ambassador’s presentation.

As we consider the question of the role of governments in multistakeholder cooperation, the United States remains optimistic that the IGF community will stay strong in its commitment to the multistakeholder system. That system is rooted in the belief that through collaboration and inclusive participation of all the Internet’s stakeholders, we spur innovation and reach consensus based decisions that enable the interconnection and interoperability of networks in a seamless, global Internet that empowers people the world over.

That network, the Internet, was a grand experiment 30 years ago; today, it is a crucial part of the global economy, of free expression, and of inclusive economic development.

It is also a system that has continually improved to be more transparent, better serve the needs of Internet users and their governments, and adapt to the increasingly dynamic world in which we live.

The United States has a longstanding interest in strengthening the multi-stakeholder system, and conversations with governments and other stakeholders across the world are part of those efforts.

Over the years various proposals have suggested that a single, intergovernmental bodyshould be enlisted to strengthen the role of governments in existing multi-stakeholder processes. I want to note that the U.S. Government respects these ideas, and that we are members in good standing of those very institutions in which they have been raised. I applaud the effort and thought put into these proposals, and I believe they reflect how we all aspire to promote a multistakeholder system in which all stakeholders are encouraged to participate and treated equally. But it is also true that such proposals may do little to meaningfully improve global access to an innovative, accessible Internet. In fact, they could even work against that goal.

The multistakeholder system has proven itself more successful than any preexisting model for the deployment and governance of a new technology. Nonetheless, its improvement is something that all stakeholders have sought from its inception. And the rising rate of stakeholder participation in the system, including that of governments, proves that the community has made ongoing and demonstrable progress toward full inclusion.

Ideally, any suggestions for further improvements in the Internet governance system would not just focus on any one institution or narrowly on the role of governments, which could disadvantage other equally important stakeholders.

We will continue to seek to expand the discussion beyond strengthening the hand of government in Internet institutions to ensuring that all stakeholders are paid their due respect and afforded a meaningful and equal opportunity to participate. Civil society, academia, and others have also called for a strengthening of their roles and we must also address their concerns.

We fully acknowledge the need to find ways to better integrate governments and other stakeholders from developing nations into the multistakeholder Internet governance institutions that exist today. And more importantly, so do those institutions. We applaud Brazil’s commitment to multistakeholder governance at home and abroad. We offer our hand of friendship in a joint effort to expand the role of all stakeholders from the developing world, including the vibrant civil society and industry actors in Latin America and we would posit that the ITU may be just one of numerous entities that can assist in that effort and may actually not be the best one to do so.

We also note with admiration that Brazil’s pending Marco Civil legislation, s originally drafted and introduced was a collaborative work. I met with the bill’s author in Brazil and he walked me through the inclusive and transparent process that included open public debates on the text. That process produced a call for a free and open Internet in Brazil and I would note it did not include a call for the forced localization of data. Brazil deserves praise for the multistakeholder process it went through to construct this legislation.

Further, we have followed with interest the recent news stories about the new Internet Summit to be held in Brazil in April 2014. I want to take this opportunity, as I sit here with my Brazilian counterpart, to reiterate that the US and Brazil share a vision of the Internet that ensures freedom of expression, security, and respect for human rights. We also share an interest in strengthening the existing democratic governance structures with input from governments, civil society, and the private sector. Given the common principles and vision that the U.S. and Brazil share, I appreciate Brazil’s leadership role on this issue and we look forward to hearing more about what the Summit will seek to achieve.

But as we approach that summit, please understand that the U.S. government strongly believes that the global community is best positioned to benefit from a vibrant, growing Internet environment where commercial, civil society and governmental stakeholders jointly participate in the existing distributed set of Internet institutions, each performing specific tasks without unnecessary duplication or encroachment on the roles of others.

Again, we welcome debate, discussion, cooperation, and collaboration. And we hope that we can get to a place where everyone, particularly our friends in the developing world, can fully engage in the multistakeholder system, helping to bolster its accountability, inclusiveness, and responsiveness to the needs of global community of Internet users

Let us think creatively in order to bring more developing country governments, along with their counterparts in civil society, academia, and industry to the table of our multi-stakeholder Internet institutions. And let us grow and evolve together. After all, that’s what has brought us here today – a common appreciation for the good that the Internet has enabled and an interest in the future of the Internet; so let’s collectively move forward to ensure that we make the most of this compelling opportunity.